Fixing the Voter Action Act (Public Financing) in New Mexico
Today, February 3, 2015, the Senate Rules committee has SB 58, Campaign Public Financing Changes on the agenda. If your Senator sits on the committee, please send them a quick email or give them a call asking for their support!
Here are the members of the Rules Committee – please click on their name to get the contact info!
Senator Linda M. Lopez
Senator Daniel A. Ivey-Soto
Senator Jacob R. Candelaria
Senator Stuart Ingle
Senator Mark Moores
Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino
Senator Cliff R. Pirtle
Senator Clemente Sanchez
Senator Michael S. Sanchez
Senator Sander Rue
The state of New Mexico has three systems races for public financing of campaigns, the Public Regulation Commission, Court of Appeals and the NM Supreme Court.
On June 27, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the constitutionality of public campaign financing in the Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett decision. However, the ruling struck down one mechanism used in some public financing programs, including New Mexico's Voter Action Act. Our current law gives additional matching funds to publicly financed candidates when they are faced with a privately financed candidate who’s outspending them. This is no longer possible without necessary changes to the law.
Our proposed changes would:
- Allow publicly financed candidates to accept small contributions of $100 or less. These $100-or-less contributions would be matched with additional public funds on a 4-1 basis. And the publicly financed candidate could continue to effectively compete with a privately financed opponent.
- Ensure those candidates who run unopposed do not receive any public funding
- Prohibit the use of campaign funds for living expenses or compensation to the candidate or candidate’s family
This legislation will not:
- Cost the state any extra money (the current caps on funding remain the same)
- Expand our current public financing system; it only fixes the current system
A candidate seeking public funds must still continue to collect $5 contributions from voters in their districts. If they reach a certain threshold, they receive a block grant to run their campaigns. This part of public campaign financing remains untouched.
This legislation has unprecedented bipartisan support from both chambers during the last long session in 2013 and passed the New Mexico Senate 33-7 and the House of Representatives, 68-0.
Why this legislation is important to New Mexicans:
- 76% of registered voters support ceasing public campaign funding to unopposed candidates
- 61% of registered New Mexico voters support providing matching funds from the state to Public Regulation Commission and judicial candidates who agree to raise only contributions under $100